Organizational Makeover

Ivan Whitaker

Ivan Whitaker


Ivan Whitaker

How is morale quantified at the leadership level? More specifically, what is the internal process for determining if the internal leadership team positively or negatively influences morale? Dead people do not lead! I will also refer to the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” In reality, “garbage in, garbage stays.” Studies show that the organizational culture is usually a direct reflection of the executed temperament, conflict resolution, and motivational skills of the leadership team.

I will offer a few tips that may assist with quantifying morale at the leadership level. The endpoint is the incorporation of strategies and processes directed to improve morale throughout the entire organization.

1) Know how leaders are perceived in the organization

I am a firm believer in 360-degree evaluations. Making the required adjustments to improve morale may be difficult if the leader is oblivious to the perceptions of employees. Implement processes that require management “at all levels” to be evaluated anonymously by their subordinates. Create categories in the evaluations exclusive to the perception of morale. Categorize the results and target opportunities for improvement. A lack of commitment to knowing how subordinates view the morale of the management team may be an indication of poor morale in the leadership ranks.

2) Assess KSAs (knowledge, skills, and ability) and implement training initiatives

In 911 communications, some employees are promoted to leadership roles based on the performance of task-related skills. Implement processes that measure the emotional quotient and emotional intelligence of candidates. Evaluate the conflict resolution skills of potential leaders and their ability to provide solutions. Use the outcomes to establish a learning environment and implement programs meant to enhance leadership skills over time.

3) Evaluate your effectiveness during times of crisis

In the movie “After Earth,” Gen. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) commands a Ranger Corps, which is a peacekeeping organization that comes into conflict with alien creatures called S’krell. The S’krell’s primary weapon is the Ursas, a predatory creature that hunts by sensing fear. Cypher learns how to suppress his fear and practically becomes invisible to Ursas. He is a dominant force in battle. When most see chaos, true leaders see opportunities for enhancements, innovation, and opportunities. Develop a process to evaluate the ability of the leadership team to motivate during challenging times. Place sustained or improved morale as a line item in project plans during major implementations such as CAD, phones systems, and of course the Priority Dispatch System (PDS) protocols.

4) Observe if subordinates know the mission and vision

Are the mission and vision articulated in a fashion that leaves a lasting and clear impression? Good leaders are able to get people to see the future through their eyes. Great articulation and leading by example allows the vision to grow exponentially and strengthens with input from the team. If the mission is “Excellent Service,” are subordinates able to see this in your actions? There is a saying: “Judge a man by what he does when he doesn’t have to do it.” Measure this element by evaluating if your subordinates know the mission and vision of the organization.

5) Quantify time spent on the positives

Document the number of hours spent weekly on dealing with complaints, challenges, and problem employees. Compare this with the number of hours dedicated to high performers and projects with positive outcomes. Motivational speaker Les Brown tells a story of a man who graduated with a master’s degree. No family members attended his graduation. Not a single person in his family acknowledged his accomplishments. The same man’s cousin got out of jail and there was a “Welcome Home” party.

I was awakened to this when Heather Allison, an employee at my former communication center, stated, “If we continue to focus on the non-performers, we will lose those who are compliant.” When the primary focus of the leadership team is non-compliance, it may be difficult to positively influence the work environment. This may also be an indication of morale challenges within the leadership team.